Hello everyone and welcome to my blog, my name is Shelly and I too am proud to work as a Domestic Abuse Practitioner within Next Chapter. This blog is focused on the pain that’s left behind after escaping from an abusive relationship, we already know that domestic abuse comes in many forms and cannot always be seen by the naked eye. But what we may not yet know is how to cope with these thoughts and feelings that are often left hanging around for what can sometimes feel like forever.

Here at Next Chapter we are here for you no matter what stage of your journey, be it in the midst of the storm or the aftermath. We will continue to support and guide you even if you are still entwined deeply within this storm and do not even know if you can ever get out.

We are here to listen, offer a safe haven, guide you to other support networks and do whatever we can to help you find happiness and safety again. You are worth it after all.

But what if this pain never goes away?” I hear you say...

Many women and men reach out for support many weeks/months or even years after the abuse has stopped. They still need our support as although it has stopped raining the clouds are still there and the dark shadows remain within their own minds. We offer that experienced listening ear to help you learn to live with those scars and shadows that have been left behind.

These feelings can be confusing, over whelming even, especially if you are now free and away from that relationship.

“This is what you wanted“ I hear you telling yourself. “It’s all over now so why can’t I be happy?” “I still love him…..how can this be?” 

These are all perfectly natural feelings and reactions to loss and grief and some may even compare it to a bereavement.  Even if you don’t feel that way at all you may have been left feeling empty and confused or angry. We might constantly be bargaining with ourselves still or find that depression has taken over. We all deal with loss in our own individual ways and this is what makes each of us so unique. This is perfectly normal too. You are not going crazy I promise!

When unpicking my own losses in life I was advised by my counsellor at the time to make a timeline on a piece of paper. Simply draw a line across a sheet of A4 and start from birth to current day. Jot down each experience of loss in a timeline fashion.

I was astonished… I had lost a lot in my short life – 36 years if you have to know!! Jobs, relationships, relatives, friends and at one point at around the age of 25 I had noted that I had lost myself! I’m sure that most survivors of domestic abuse can understand that feeling too. A loss can be so huge that we literally have to learn to live again.

This simple tool had helped me to understand that as painful as each loss was for me I had continued to ‘survive’. Each loss had brought me its own level of pain but with that came a unique level of life experience and empathy for others going through any form of loss or grief. This helps me today in my work with clients, maybe it is something you could use too? Volunteering is a fantastic place to start.

Take a look at this BBC video on coping with a bereavement. If you swap the word bereavement for loss I feel it applies to both…

https://twitter.com/bbciplayer/status/987990393437540352?lang=en

I suppose the main thing I wanted to get across to you truly amazing people is that with every painful experience in life some positives can be found.  Each experience can be managed and faced with the support of family, friends or your Domestic Abuse Practitioner.

Explore it, talk about it, try and learn from it if you can but most of all please do forgive yourself for any confusing thoughts that may pop into your mind even years after the event. This is just your brains way of learning to recover and live again and if you give it half a chance you’ll be surprised at what it can do.

Thanks for reading!

Shelly x